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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Medieval Tidbit

Here's an example of a tidbit!  For me, it just means some random fact, occurrence, or story that gets my imagination going and starts me thinking of a new story.  This can be absolutely ANYTHING!  Here's one of my favorites!

In the 16th Century, men condemned to death were given rose tattoos. This was so that if they escaped, they would be immediately recognized. If you look on the internet, you can find references--with almost the exact words I just typed!!--that say this. However, it's hard to find any more detail on the subject.

What country was this in? Who instituted it? Was it a very common practice? What specific part of the body was tattooed, or did it even matter?

The lack of info makes me wonder how true this assertion is, but if anyone has any more detail, I'd love to hear it!

It seems to me that, especially in Europe, in the 16th century, tattooing would have been a bit of a mystical art. So were some kind of Eastern mystics commissioned to do the work, or were there locals that could do it?

I love this fact because it sets a perfect stage for a story: A man condemned to die escapes but has to keep some part of his body covered up so that no one recognizes him as a convict. The real question would be, is the thing he was convicted for something heinous that he really did, or just something he was falsely accused of? The answer could determine whether this is a protagonist or antagonist, and, you know, the course of human history as we know it.

...just kidding. I tend to be a bit of a drama queen when I get caught up in my story telling.

Remember, knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies.


  1. I seem to recall that in one of the Disney Three Musketeers movies there was a lady with this tattoo on her and her life long lover decides to betray her. Anyhow, fascinating idea. It's funny because today in much of the Latino community we find a lot of individuals who identify with the rose and with tattoos. I remember I wanted a rose tattooed on my cheek when I was 14 to celebrate the Latino heritage and better fit in. My parents were soooooo against it that I bought a years supply of temporary tattoos (for the fingers) and would put them on every 3-6 days on my cheek. Didn't realize I was marking myself for death! ;)

  2. Ha ha. Maybe that's the real reason your parents frowned on it. Don't you just hate it when your parents are right? :D

  3. Never heard of anything like that I must say- though I have heard tattoos were frowned upon and regarded as pagan. I know the ancient Britons used to paint themselves, but that did not involve tattooing, but rather extracting the dye from a plant called Woad, which turns a deep blue when it comes into contact with the air...

    Also, it seems in the 13th century, a number of criminals and outlaws were in the habit of adopting the surname 'Robehood' or some other variant of Robin Hood......

    1. Ooh Robehood. That sounds interesting. Just a histfic story waiting to happen. :D Thanks so much for commenting! :D